Saturday, December 19, 2009

DRACULA 2010 - My Favorite Direct-to-DVD Horror Films of the Last Decade

Yesterday's list didn't scare you off? Well then, up next, I've got my ten favorite direct-to-video/DVD horror, suspense, and splatter films of the last decade. Now I know some of these had very limited theatrical runs in the U.S., but for the sake of 99% of the populace who saw it first at home, they're getting listed here. Deal with it.

And whereas you probably heard of my theatrical favorites, I hope you'll find a few unheard-of ones on this list, take a little time off from your mainstream cinema, and seek them out.

10. (2004)
DRACULA 3000 - the only movie on the list that's so goddamn horrible, it supersedes being unwatchable and ends up amazing. Casper Van Dien, Coolio, and Erika Eleniak stop their spaceship on Planet Carpathia and pick up a coffin containing a man wearing a Dracula Halloween costume. Really. Watch it. Now... With booze.

9. (2006)
What starts as a fun, cinema verite look at what goes on "behind the mask" of a slasher movie villain turns into a genuinely creepy modern slasher with an amazing final act! Robert Englund delivers a very solid performance as Vernon's "Ahab", again proving he can actually act. Why there isn't a sequel already, I have no idea.

8. House of the Devil (2009)
The slowest burn in the history of slow burns, THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL makes ROSEMARY'S BABY seem like doing crystal meth at Six Flags. Halfway through, you're shocked so violently that you'll levitate off the sofa, but the film then slams right back into quiet creepiness for another 45 minutes. If atmosphere and dread are your cup 'o tea, this film is an absolute must.

7. (2004)
HELLBENT is all about a group of young friends' night on the town, unaware that they're being stalked by a masked psychopath. Oh yeah, and everyone's gay. What makes it work however, is that it actually functions as a great slasher movie - and not just a gay movie. The guys are likable, the kills are brutal, and the film is just a ton of fun.

6. (2007)
Defying every genre expectations, WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END somehow manages to be a far-superior direct-to-DVD sequel than the theatrical original. Why is it so great? Probably the gallons of gore, Henry Rollins, and the only time a reality show has ever worked as a plot device in a genre film.

5. (2009)
A graverobbing ghoul dishes on his life of crime in this wonderful throwback to Hammer horror, combining comedy and the supernatural with just a touch of raucous Irish thuggery. The script is amazingly tight, lively, and entertaining - and having heavy-hitters Dominic Monaghan and Ron Perlman in your cast certainly doesn't hurt, either. Fun and beautiful, ISTD is the kind of film I ultimately aspire to create.

4. (2006)
HATCHET is another film that embodies everything I love about movies: a group of Mardi Gras misfits end up trapped in a swamp with Kane Hodder, who leaps through clouds of red mist to tear them all limb-from-limb. It never takes itself seriously, pours on the excess, and practically forces you to cheer for each and every kill.

3. Splinter (2008)
A couple runs afoul of a pair of criminals and a bloodthirsty, porcupine-like parasite in this absolutely amazing film that was somehow sent directly to the Sci-Fi Channel and then shuffled off the DVD. The effects are mind-bogglingly good, the performances are amazing, and the action and scares are completely unrelenting.

2. Trick 'r Treat (2008)
I've already fondled this movie enough to be on a watchlist, so I'll just say that I adore it. It makes me feel like a kid again, and not a lot of horror can accomplish something that special. I absolutely love it.

1. Battle Royale: Director's Cut (Collector's Edition) (2000)
Wide-released (and amazingly successful) in its native Japan, this powerful look at school violence was all but ignored on US shores - and took somewhere around eight years to get a solid DVD release. What America missed, however, was one of the most poignant, beautiful, gory, and action-packed non-genre genre films ever made. It doesn't matter how you feel about Japanese cinema - you owe it to yourself to watch BATTLE ROYALE. Immediately.

Honorable mentions go to BOY EATS GIRL (amazingly cute), THE TOOLBOX MURDERS (I dug it), MACHINE GIRL (schoolgirl vs yakuza? I'm in love!), FRANKENFISH (Really. Its actually fun), JACK BROOKS: MONSTER SLAYER (the pacing's off, but the movie is a riot), and DOMAIN OF THE DAMNED (a movie so good, I called the director and said "We need to make a film together." And we did.).

So, there you are - my favorite DTV horror of the past ten years. Please feel free to complain, comment, or otherwise say hello below.

And for those of you wondering if I'll do a "Worst of" list, the answer is no. Truth is, there were so many horrible films released over the past decade, and I hated a great number of movies that my peers loved.

If you ever want to hear the hate list, buy me a beer and we'll discuss it like adults... Drunk, ranting adults.

Friday, December 18, 2009

LET THE WRONG ONE IN - My Favorite Wide-Release Horror Films of the Last Decade

With everyone compiling their "Best horror films of '09" lists, I thought I'd do my usual one-upsmanship routine and take it one step further - offering you my "Favorite horror films of the oughts." That's right, I've taken the time to put together not one - but two (the next appears tomorrow) - Top 10 lists covering my favorite horror, suspense, and splatter since the dawn of the new millennium.

And before you start having multiple crygasms over the titles I've chosen, please try to remember whose blog you're reading. I don't cream jeans when I catch a great performance or a cinematic treasure that chills me to the bone. For this guy, its all about firehose-like fountains of blood and multiple bad puns. If that ain't your bag, feel free to go jerk off whatever garbage Lisa Schwarzbaum is currently praising.

So, without further ado, my ten favorite theatrical wide-releases (U.S.) since 2000:

10. (2005)
Narrowly beating out DOG SOLDIERS as my favorite Neil Marshall film, THE DESCENT managed to take a guy who wasn't afraid of enclosed spaces or crazy blind albino mutants and somehow scare the precious life out of him. The first time you see one of those critters, I dare you not to leap out of your skin.

9. (2001)
Two brothers play a prank over a CB radio, and turn a faceless, gravelly-voiced trucker into a murderous sociopath. There should have been a lot more love for JOYRIDE - a totally unrelenting thriller in the vein of Hitchcock, with great performances from the entire cast and truly gasp-inducing tension.

8. (2004)
There's not much to say that hasn't already been said... SHAUN OF THE DEAD is a spot-on brilliant homage to Romero's zombie films, filled with lovable characters, amazingly quotable dialogue, hilarious laughs, and (as a bonus) some truly disturbing moments of genuine horror.

7. (2000)
Eat it. This movie has flaws, but I think BLAIR WITCH 2 is a wonderful mindfuck of a film that was brave enough to avoid the trappings of a traditional sequel while taking on the unavoidable pratfall of the first film's celebrity status. And its got great boobs... and spooky dead kids.

6. (2008)
College kids. South America. Me actually looking away from the screen. The less you know about it, the better... but the best part is that real gross-out shock moments aren't from the "monster" - but from man. Had this movie come out at the height of torture porn's popularity, it would have been a blockbuster.

5. (2007)
Forget THE MIST's gut-wrenching finale (I always do) and you've still got one of the best monster movies ever made - period. If THEM! had a baby with H.P. Lovecraft's brain, it might look something like this beautiful, character-driven creature feature... And Mrs. Carmody? Its been a long time since I've begged that desperately to see a character get what's coming to them.

4. (2007)
This movie embodies everything I love about cinema, from the bad puns and disembodied genitals to unbelievable celebrity cameos and gratuitous, improbable gore. But the very best part? Writer/director Robert Rodriguez never, ever forgets that its all just supposed to be fun.

3. (2004)
I bitched and bitched (and bitched) about DAWN OF THE DEAD '04. Every part of me was ready to hate this action/horror remake of one of my favorite films... but after its breathtaking intro and the opening credits rolled to When the Man Comes Around, I leaned over to my wife, smiled, and said, "Okay. I'll kindly shut the fuck up now."

2. (2005)
Angry about BLAIR WITCH 2 being on this list? Well, prepare to fume even harder. A zombie-filled 9/11 political drama starring Dennis Hopper, John Leguizamo, and Asia Argento?! Romero, like me, was never subtle about his political beliefs, and this is his big, unapologetic "fuck you" to conservative ideals. I love it.

1. (2002)
Say what you will about Eli Roth, but CABIN FEVER is an all-out riot. It is the kind of film I would love to make, and the only movie that has actually driven my wife to drink. I could watch it once a month and always find something to laugh at or gag upon.

Honorable mentions go to HOSTEL (I loved it), THE RING (but I loved the original more), THE DEVIL'S REJECTS (wherefore art thou, Rob Zombie's talent?), JEEPERS CREEPERS (and its TREMORS-eque sequel), DOOM (its ALIENS - only retarded!), 28 DAYS LATER/28 WEEKS LATER (they kicked my ass), THE ORPHANAGE (made me cry), ZOMBIELAND (total fun), and dozens more.

Tune in tomorrow for my top ten favorite direct-to-DVD (and video, remember those?) horror, suspense, and splatter movies of the oughts! I expect you to both laugh (at my picks) and cry (for my taste in film).

And if you've made it this far, please comment and complain about my picks, make some of your own, and tell me what I obviously forgot!

Happy 2010! ...Feels kinda futuristic, doesn't it?